The grammar of happiness: a turn towards everyday life?

A culture is guided by its concept of happiness, and how that is located in the overall grammar of human existence – and our society is one that is focused on living a happy life. A result of that is that we often ask ourselves if we are happy – whether consciously or not. We compare our level of happiness with others, and then translate … Continue reading The grammar of happiness: a turn towards everyday life?

What is the optimal degree of separation in a society?

Almost everyone has heard about the notion of “six degrees of separation” – that there are six jumps between any two persons in, say, the US. The experiment or game actually originates in a short story by Hungarian author Frigyes Karinthy, The Chain, where the object of the game was to connect two random individuals. It was then popularized by experiments where social scientist Stanley … Continue reading What is the optimal degree of separation in a society?

Deterrence and memory – is it dangerous to forget nuclear weapons?

Economist Thomas Schelling made an important observation in his Nobel prize talk in 2005 when he said: “The most spectacular event of the past half century is one that did not occur.We have enjoyed sixty years without nuclear weapons exploded in anger.” Thomas Schelling Nobel Prize Talk. This observation is no less true today, but we can add a worrying conjecture to the observation – … Continue reading Deterrence and memory – is it dangerous to forget nuclear weapons?

Red queen evolution and industrialization / informatization

A simple model to think through (for flaws as well as merits): industrialization was a process with efficiency as the core competitive dimension, informatization is a process with learning as the core competitive dimension — in a coarse grained model this would almost correspond to the different dimensions in evolution; the first adaptation to the environment (efficiency) and the second adaptation to other adaptive systems … Continue reading Red queen evolution and industrialization / informatization

The US Supreme Court, ENA and institutional reform

It is probably correct to say that there has never been as much pressure to reform the US Supreme Court as right now. President Biden has proposed a commission to report in 6 months on court reform, and today a number of democrats presented a bill that would lead to expanding the number of justices to 13. This, in itself, is interesting – the Court … Continue reading The US Supreme Court, ENA and institutional reform

The myth of profit maximization

The FT editorial today deals with Danone and its shift to a “purpose driven company”. The shift has been less than successful and its architect was unceremoniously removed. The editorial then goes on to note that there is a tension here between the Milton Friedman vision of companies as socially responsible when they maximize their profits and the more fuzzy vision today of companies as … Continue reading The myth of profit maximization

The US returns to the endless frontier?

The organization and funding of science is a key geopolitical competitive advantage – and badly underrated across most economies. The European Union has failed at organizing tightly around scientific challenges, relying on large flagship programs that fragment into systems for distributing money across member states and the US has lost track of the post-world war II investments and strategies that through Vannevar Bush gave it … Continue reading The US returns to the endless frontier?

Whiteout in the mountains and the sorrow over time compressed

We are in for a snowstorm tonight, the reports are saying. There is something about being at the mercy of weather that really is refreshing. I have, over the years, become more and more skeptical about city-living, and have enjoyed being ice-locked on an island in the archipelago and now huddling next to the fireplace in our rented cabin in the north. I am working, … Continue reading Whiteout in the mountains and the sorrow over time compressed